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China-Dalai Lama envoys to meet
Secretive talks to be held following criticism of China's crackdown on Tibet protests.
Last Modified: 01 Jul 2008 10:26 GMT

Global protests against China's crackdown against Tibetans has dampened Olympic spirits [AFP]

Envoys of the Dalai Lama and China are scheduled to hold talks more than three months after deadly unrest in Tibet overshadowed the country's Olympic build-up.

Secrecy surrounded the details of the talks on Tuesday with Chinese officials refusing to say where the meeting would be held, what the agenda was, or even when it would start.

China's decision to hold the formal seventh round of talks since 2002 follows international condemnation of its crackdown on riots in Tibet in March that embarrassed Beijing ahead of the Olympics to be staged in August.

"His holiness the Dalai Lama has instructed the envoys to make every effort to bring about tangible progress to alleviate the difficult situation for Tibetans in their homeland," a statement from the Dalai Lama's office said.

Samdhong Rinpoche, prime minister of the self-proclaimed Tibetan government-in-exile based in Dharmsala, India, said that envoys Lodi Gyari and Kelsang Gyaltsen are due to meet Chinese officials in Beijing for two days of talks.

Chinese charge

Beijing has accused the Dalai Lama, Tibet's exiled spiritual leader, of fomenting unrest in the Himalayan region that erupted on March 14 after four days of peaceful protests.

The crackdown on the unrest, which spread to neighbouring Tibetan-populated areas of western China, sparked global protests that marred the month-long international journey of the Olympic torch.

China's call to separate Tibetan politics from the Beijing Olympics goes unheeded [REUTERS]

On Tuesday, a Chinese foreign ministry spokesman said the Beijing Olympics should not be connected to Tibetan-related issues.

"Tibetan affairs is an internal affair of China and the contact  between the central government and the private representatives of  the Dalai is also an internal affair of China," the spokesman, Liu Jianchao, told journalists.

China says it acted with restraint to quell the protests, charging "rioters" with killing 21 people in the unrest.

The Tibetan government-in-exile says 203 Tibetans were killed and about 1,000 hurt.

Also on Tuesday, Nepalese police said they stopped a group of Tibetan monks and nuns during their march towards the Chinese border in a protest against China's crackdown on unrest, officials said.

The 42 protesters were about 11km from the China-Nepal border when police blocked their path and insisted they turn back.

There have been near daily demonstrations against Beijing's rule over Tibet in neighbouring Nepal, where thousands of Tibetan refugees live.

Source:
Agencies
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